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pel of Nicodemus, but we shall not suffer it to lead us astray from our well-founded and sincere belief in the sacred records of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. I thought it my duty to lay before you such statements as are not often heard in Christian congregations, and your good sense will tell you how scanty is the evidence of the Descent into Hell, when compared to the opposite testimony of omission. I have often wished that, by the authority of our venerable church, the word was altered in the Apostles' Creed. When repeating that Creed I sometimes used the printed word, but I occasionally used, and shall continue to use the word Hades, and, without pronouncing any positive opinion, I leave my hearers to their own interpretation. As to the scriptural evidence, it is laid before you clearly, fairly, and fully, in the sermon written by Dr. Clarke, a most sagacious, learned, and pious member of our church. I lately read to you that sermon, and I am bound to state that, after diligent and serious inquiry, I hold with Dr. Clarke that according to the Scriptures we are to believe the descent of Christ to have been not into the receptacle of damned spirits, but into the grave, the common repository of all who die, whether they be good or bad. This view of the subject leaves room for the glorious resurrection of our Redeemer; and in that resurrection we have a bright, instructive, and animating proof of our own. Here is abundant room for our faith, and our meditations ; and by them we shall be led safety to the practice of all Christian virtues, and to cherish the humble, yet earnest hope of our own salvation in the life to come. We, my brethren, like Christ, must go down into the grave. We shall not, indeed, like him be raised from the dead miraculously upon the third day, but by the omnipotence of God, and at a time, and in a manner seeming fit to his omnisci
And earnest is my prayer, that all you who now hear me may, through the promised mercy of the Deity, be placed in a state of everlasting happi
1 CORINTHIANS xvi. 13.
Watch ye ; stand fast in the faith; quit you like men ; be strong.
In this discourse I shall first explain to you the metaphorical phraseology which the Apostle uses in my text, and then proceed to enforce the instruction contained in it.
The writings of St. Paul are highly esteemed by learned men, not only for the vigour of his diction, and the cogency of his arguments, but for the frequent and marked felicity of his allusion to local circumstances. With consummate judgment he endeavours to captivate the imagination of his converts by the glowing colours of figurative language, employed upon subjects that were more familiar and more dear to them. Thus, in the Epistle to the Ephesians, he adverts very successfully to the temple of Diana, which was the magnificent ornament of their city, and speaks of edification-a term quite as little understood in criticism by the greater part of our evangelical preachers, as the thing which it was meant to express is understood in theology by them. Accordingly, he tells them, the saints as a body are built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets-Jesus Christ being himself the chief corner-stone, in whom all the building fitly framed together, groweth up into a holy temple of the Lord, and becomes an habitation of God through the spirit. In the same train of imagery, he exhorts his Ephesian followers, that speaking the truth in love, they may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body, or whole building, with the edifying of itself in love. Here, you see, is a profusion of architectural language, which derives peculiar lustre from the famous temple of Diana, which in length was four hundred and twenty-fivé Roman feet, in breadth two hundred and twenty, and supported by one hundred and twenty-seven marble columns.
In the same Epistle to the Ephesians there is another allusion, which cannot be understood by those who depend on our English version, or indeed upon the general appearance of the Greek text itself, in which there is not merely obscurity, but even tradiction; for thus you read, “ that you may be enabled to comprehend with all saints, what is the breadth and length, and depth and height, and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge.” Now as these words stand, you are called upon to comprehend the length, depth, height, and breadth of nothing, and to comprehend also the love of
Christ, which you are told in the same sentence surpasses knowledge
that is, cannot be comprehended. But all obscurity, and all contradiction, have been happily removed by the critical conjecture of a learned English Prelate, who does not alter a single letter, who transposes only one word, with the article prefixed to it, and who assigns to another word the sense which it often bears in writers, sacred and profane. Thus you must understand the passage--that you may comprehend the breadth, and length, and depth, and height of knowledge—which in St. Paul's writings often and peculiarly means religious knowledge-and the exceeding love of Christ. Here, then, we find the correctness and perspicuity of St. Paul's language, and we see moreover the beauty of it, in the allusion which, addressing Ephesian converts, he deliberately and judiciously made to the breadth and length, and the depth and the height of that sacred edifice, which they were wont to frequent and to venerate.
Again, when writing to the Corinthians, St. Paul avails himself of such customs as were well known to them, and much endeared to them; for in the city of Corinth every third, or fifth year were celebrated the Isthmian games, in which the victors were crowned with garlands, sometimes of pineleaves, and sometimes of parsley, and the contentions were in boxing, wrestling, throwing the javelin or the quoit, the foot-race, and the chariot-race. To one or other of these far-famed contests St. Paul occasionally refers in the Epistle whence my